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The Review - THEATRE
Published: 6 December 2007
Star Ewan proves a fellow well suited for the stage

Donmar Warehouse

EWAN McGregor, the pin-up of the silver screen, is best known for lead roles in Trainspotting and more recently the prequels to the Star Wars trilogy.
Here he tussles with Shakespeare’s villain Iago – a character “motivated by malignity”, as Samuel Coleridge put it – whose mind manipulations might dumbfound the young Jedi and whose selfish scheming would make the junkie Renton tremble.
Stripped of light-sabres and special effects, he gives an average performance in a finely polished production.
Unusually, Iago was upstaged at all times by the superb Chitwetel Ejiofor as Othello, who reclaimed the play’s title as the lead role.
He revelled in the Moor’s rhetoric, pronouncing the lines trippingly off the tongue and his powerful opening plea for acceptance set the tone for the rest of the night.
Like all of Shakespeare’s plays, Othello is bent on egalitarian horizons and by offsetting the unfortunate Othello, who is black, against the unprincipled Iago, who is white, Shakespeare presents a pretty straightforward plea for social harmony.
But in those characters he has laboured to bring out finer shades of difference between them. å
The talk of the “lascivious Moor” and allegations of “spells and witchcraft” are long forgotten by the time the green-eyed monster has taken root in Othello’s mind.
Shakespeare, in showing the fine line between the fondness of love and the passions of jealousy, goes closer to the concerns of humanity than in any other of his plays.
Kelly Reilly, as Desdemona, was guilty at times of long-vowelled warbling. But her willow lullaby scene was genuinely moving and she died well.
The arrival of Mr McGregor in the West End has sparked a ticket frenzy and the three-month run is sold out other than 10 seats available daily at the box office from 10.30am.
Last night a pair was going for £650 on eBay.
I’m not sure if the night quite lives up to that extravagant billing.
But if you have a few hundred quid to spare, I can thoroughly recommend it.
Until February 28
0870 0606624

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